Court quashed the decision last year by North Cowichan to deny the VIMC a permit for its $36-million expansion plans. (File photo)

Court quashed the decision last year by North Cowichan to deny the VIMC a permit for its $36-million expansion plans. (File photo)

Court quashes North Cowichan’s decision to deny expansion at Motorsport track

Municipality ordered to reassess rezoning application

The Municipality of North Cowichan’s council will meet today (Nov. 10) to discuss the Supreme Court of British Columbia’s ruling that it failed to provide justification for the controversial decision to deny the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit its rezoning plans.

Mayor Al Siebring said it’s up to council whether it will appeal the decision, issued by Justice Diane MacDonald on Nov. 6, or to go back and redo the rezoning process for VIMC’s application.

“The court’s decision was based on a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada that was made before our judicial review was held in September,” Siebring said.

“That ruling stated that if a public institution is going to change a policy, they must explain why. Basically, we were entitled to make the decision we made, but we had to give the reasons for it. We were not aware of that at the time.”

RELATED STORY: MOTORSPORT CIRCUIT GOES TO JUDICIAL REVIEW OVER NORTH COWICHAN DEVELOPMENT PERMIT DENIAL

In her ruling, MacDonald said that for six years, North Cowichan supported the VIMC’s development and was satisfied that its uses complied with the zoning bylaw.

“In these circumstances, it was arbitrary for the council to diametrically disagree with a past interpretation of the zoning bylaw without explaining the basis for the disagreement,” she said.

“There was a reason, the uses were not compliant with the zoning bylaw, but no explanation. Not providing a justification in and of itself renders the decision unreasonable. It was incumbent on the municipality to justify the decision. Unfortunately, neither the council nor the underlying record explain to the (VIMC) the basis for the municipality’s complete reversal of its earlier decision. This lack of justification undermines public confidence in the rule of law and renders the decision unreasonable.”

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN DENIES MOTORSPORT CIRCUIT REQUEST FOR DEVELOPMENT PERMIT

MacDonald said council’s decision to deny the rezoning application is quashed, and the matter is remitted back to council.

“The council is to assess the application on its technical merits and reconsider it in light of these reasons,” she said.

North Cowichan’s director of planning Rob Conway sent a letter to the VIMC denying them a development permit for its $36-million expansion plans after a contentious, marathon public hearing that took two days to complete in October, 2019.

Council decided to not allow rezoning for the expansion — which would have included a new five-kilometre paved motor vehicle circuit, an off-road motor vehicle circuit, a new clubhouse and buildings for maintaining, repairing and storing motor vehicles — after that public hearing.

RELATED STORY: $50M LIABILITY WORRY HAS NORTH COWICHAN MAYOR ASKING FOR MOTORSPORT DO-OVER

Council again denied the rezoning after a second public hearing on the expansion plans was held in December, 2019.

Based on council’s decision on the rezoning after October’s public hearing, Conway said in his letter to the VIMC that he was “obliged” to deny the application for a development permit for the project.

“I appreciate that it is [your] position that the development proposed…is for the same land use as under the development permit issued by North Cowichan for phase one of the VIMC and, as such, there has been a past determination that the land use in compliance with (zoning),” Conway said in the letter.

“However, upon careful review, I have concluded that the proposed land use is not permitted [under zoning].”

But in her ruling, MacDonald said property owners have an expectation of consistency when they rely on established and longstanding representations and decisions by a municipality.

“When consistency is denied in these circumstances, property owners have a right to know why,” she wrote.

“That is particularly so where, as here, the prior decision and practices involved the very same parties, uses, zones, and zoning bylaw.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Courtmunicipal politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two of the weapons seized in a Nov. 8 traffic stop in Black Creek. Photo supplied by RCMP
RCMP seize guns, drugs in Black Creek traffic stop

Two arrested in connection with incident

The Island Aurora arrived in Port McNeill on Sunday, June 14. (Gaby Wickstrom Facebook photo)
BC Ferries to trial two-ship service on Campbell River – Quadra Island route

BC Ferries’ newest vessel, Island Aurora, will sail on the Campbell River… Continue reading

Group physical activities have been suspended at Campbell River facilities. File photo by Marc Kitteringham - Campbell River Mirror.
Group physical activities suspended at Campbell River sports facilities

Classes and programs suspended at Strathcona Gardens, Sportsplex and Community Centre

The North Island 9-1-1 Corporation (NI911) has supported local residents for 25 years. Black Press file photo
North Island 911 looks to change how they get funding

Three options to be decided upon in early 2021

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Most Read